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Success Stories >> PEER Process

PEER™ Provided Mustard Miller A Lean Automation Process

By Thomas R. Cutler

Some technology firms call it a strategy conference; others label the event an ‘Executive Workshop’. GS Dunn, dry mustard millers since 1867, is based in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada and used the analytical process PEER. This unique program was developed by Mike Ligudzinski, VP of Velocity Group Inc.

PEER stands for Process Evaluation Executive Review and captures the values of Lean Manufacturing throughout the enterprise. This functionality is accomplished utilizing an innovative process modeling and automation toolset helping manufacturers and distributors realize continuous process improvement and profitability.

According to GS Dunn’s President, Ron Kramer, the forty person company provides a complete line of mustard flours, ground mustards, brans, and deactivated mustard, ranking the firm as the premier supplier of mustard products worldwide. (They currently export to over 45 countries on 6 continents.)

Initially, the conference concept was to select, purchase, and reinforce the implementation of a new ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning System) because according to Kramer, “Our existing system was badly outdated and was not giving us the information we needed. The person who was supporting the system, no longer supported it.”

External forces were also driving the need for the improved automation technology, including increased competition. Demand by GS Dunn customers for additional information and expansion into at least four currencies mandated system improvements.

Kramer wisely recognized that buy-in among the fifteen end-users of the ERP system was critical. “GS Dunn is not heavily staffed. We do not have an IT department. There was a great concern that the work necessary to introduce the program was overwhelming.”

Ligudzinski suggested the PEER process to Kramer. “One of the suggestions Mike made was that he would personally conduct this PEER conference to allay any fears GS Dunn might have. It helped us define our needs better than we could by ourselves. As a matter of fact, the task lists are now posted in my office. I have a meeting with all of our supervisory and management staff to bring them up to date.”

According to Ligudzinski the PEER event is run to achieve the following:

·         To draw a company model that portrays a high level view of the business.

·         To get a complete picture of the true business related reasons for implementing a new system – the ‘business objectives’

·         Have the client senior management clearly articulate and agree as to the measurable and achievable business objectives for the implementation.

·         Identify and document the issues that need to be addressed/resolved to be able to meet the objectives

·         Prepare a task list with all the tasks that must be completed to address all the issues identified.

These points are only the actual mechanics of the PEER event. There are a number of significant attitude and commitment changes that are produced as a result of the ‘workshop’.

The true, valid business reasons for spending the money are articulated and documented.

·         The team builds a common, agreed, and focused set of objectives.

·         The management team realizes the extent of the work that needs to be undertaken to achieve the objectives and have a successful implementation.

·         Every single time there are operational details that are uncovered (many of which senior management were not aware), or that were seriously misunderstood.

The PEER process is a significant event because it ensures a clear and agreed understanding by the combined implementation team, the client and the implementers, of what the client really wants as a result of spending money on a new system. The PEER format is able to draw out these facts and details even though the client may not have been able to articulate them prior to the event.

Kramer noted that, “After the PEER session, it was evident that the implementation was doable,” and what surprised him most was, “The input and enthusiasm of the two people who are going to lead the implementation team.”

The PEER process is also a MUST, forming an essential ingredient to effective understanding and implementation of a Lean Manufacturing program.


Author Profile:

Thomas R. Cutler is the President & CEO of Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based TR Cutler, Inc., the largest manufacturing marketing firm worldwide – www.trcutlerinc.com. Cutler is the founder of the Manufacturing Media Consortium of 2000 journalists writing about trends in manufacturing. Cutler is the lead spokesperson for the ETO Institute (www.etoinstitute.org). Cutler is also the author of the Manufacturer's Public Relations and Media Guide. Cutler is a frequently published author within the manufacturing sector, more than 200 feature articles annually, can be contacted at trcutler@trcutlerinc.com or at 954-486-7562

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